One of the things children do not do very well is wait. You know how they are impatient and want what they want right now. There are adults just like that who are impatient and have never broken from the tradition of their human nature, but it shouldn’t be that way with the child of God, especially in the area of prayer. Years ago, I was on the floor in our home praying and I said my prayer and got up. Immediately when I stood up, God spoke to me. He said, “Joe, you have not learned to pray until you learn to sit in my presence quietly.” Another time I was praying and seeking God for direction for a message I was going to preach, and as I prayed the Lord said, “Joe, there’s no way you could hear what I have to say to you because of all the clutter in your mind.” Over and over I have been reminded of the disciple’s request in Luke 11:1-4,
“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as [it is] in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”
Being taught to pray sounds like a one-time class memorizing verses 2-4. The reality, however, is that being taught to pray is memorizing a group of sentences or even a structure, but being taught to pray is about waiting on the teacher to show up every time you start to pray. Most Christians never pray long enough for the teacher to even come into the classroom of our prayer closet. We give God our list and go on and never wait on the Lord to meet us there. To be taught to pray you must, you must wait on the teacher to show up. For some they may start in prayer and the Lord shows up 5 minutes into their prayer, and for others they must be in prayer 10 minutes or 15 minutes. If you’re praying just to be praying because it’s what you do, then you may never stay long enough in prayer. But if you’re praying to meet with the Savior, you’ll learn to stay long enough for the Savior to show up.
How do you know when the Lord shows up in your time of prayer? One of the first things is there is a strengthening in your mind. When you wait for God in prayer, there is a focus and clarity in your prayer that was not there before. When you wait for the Teacher in prayer, He directs your mind in what to pray for specifically. When you wait for God in prayer and He shows up, you don’t want to leave that time of prayer. It’s true that we should have a child-like faith, but we should not have a child-like prayer life. Wait on the Lord in your prayers and He will teach you how to pray.